Tuesday, September 3, 2013

St. Regis San Francisco

Borrowed from the hotel's website
August has been an absolutely crazy month for me. In addition to moving, I was also laid off (boo!) and went to San Francisco (fun!). My trip to SF (I’m told that you’re to never call it “San Fran”) was from August 7-August 12. Normally by now I would have fully reviewed it but yeah, that clearly hasn’t happened and I’m sure not if it will. I am though going to at least review my hotel because we picked a great one.

We ended up staying at the St. Regis, located near Union Square. Now, I do not normally stay at St. Regises because they are expensive. The starting rate for the one we stayed at, according to Expedia, is $700. But we did not pay $700, not even close, because we used a friend’s Starwood (which owns the St. Regis brand) employee discount program.

So what does $700 a night get you?

Well, to start, it gets you a hotel with an ideal location. We were a short walk from the stores of Union Square as well as Chinatown and the financial district, which had some wonderfully preserved historic architecture. North Beach and the Embarcadero waterfront, which includes the ferry terminal-turned-market, are also both reasonable walks away and, if you’re up to it, you can even walk to Pier 39, where the sea lions are, and Fishermen’s Wharf (we did it, twice). There’s also a BART station nearby, so you can take the train directly to and from the airport.

But the St. Regis is hardly the only hotel in the neighbourhood. What that $700 is really getting you is amazing service. Here are just three examples of what I mean:
  • One day I left a book open on the page where I had stopped reading. When I returned to the room after being gone all day, I found that the maid had marked my page with a bookmark and closed it. 
  • The concierge tried to get us a discount on our hop-on, hop-off tour by booking our ticket online for us. It didn’t work (something to do with our Canadian address) but she certainly tried her best. 
  • On our first morning there, we were awoken at 7 am by the noise of the neighbouring building being torn down. I went down to the front desk, politely complained and was switched to a room on the far side of the construction. What was impressive about this is that while the clerk looked at what rooms were free, I heard another clerk tell someone over the phone that they were booked solid the following night, a night we would be there. When I heard that, I was worried that we would be stuck in our noisy room but nope, the clerk who was helping me somehow found us one that was much quieter. 
Our first room
That $700 also gets you rooms that are spotless, fully stocked and home to sleek, marble bathrooms and comfortable, king-sized beds.

Our first room was actually on the small size. While the elegant bathroom, which had a two-person shower and a soaker tub, was a good size, the actual sleeping and storage space was a bit tight. It also looked out at an alley and a brick wall. At first I quite liked this; it meant no street noise, right? But then the following morning we discovered that that wall is part of the building that’s being torn down. On the plus side, that room was located on the same floor as the pretty, and deserted, indoor pool.

Our next room was noticeably bigger. It had its own front hall, as well as a second desk that was tucked down another hall and a lovely chaise lounge positioned right by the large windows. I suspect that this room was in another “class” than our first room because it also came with turndown service (which sadly did not include chocolate or any other edible treats). But importantly, this second room was dead quiet. I have no idea what it would normally cost but I suspect that it runs more than $700 a night.

Our second room
The building that’s being torn down is the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, which will then be rebuilt as a bigger and better space. The new building is slated to open in 2016 so yeah, things are going to be a bit noisy around the St. Regis for the next little bit. So if you do decide to stay there, be sure to ask for a room away from the construction.

Would I stay here again: Yes but only if I had the discount code and could be guaranteed a quiet room. While it was a great hotel, the only way I'm going to spend $700 on a hotel is if it's something like this.

Should you stay here: Can you get a discount or have someone, maybe work, pay your bill? Then yes. Or are you really rich and don’t care about things like hotel costs? Then yes, you too can stay here. Otherwise I think the cost of this place has made the decision for you.

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